‘Til death do you part

Charles Manson and friends

Charles Manson granted licence to marry, as he should

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published in The Other Press. November 26, 2014

To me Charles Manson had always been the image of insanity, hate, violence, and murder. To me the man is unlovable, or better yet, undeserving of love. But is that how we punish people? Yes, we can abolish freedom and civil rights, but can we ever abolish love, whatever it is?

It’s been reported that the 80-year-old convicted murderer and cultural symbol of cruelty and bloodshed has been granted legal rights to marry his 26-year-old betrothed, Afton Elaine Burton. It’s a match made somewhere, anywhere, but definitely not heaven. However, their story is one that may be adapted into a Nicholas Sparks novel real soon. After corresponding over letters and telephone, Burton, at 19, moved to Corcoran, California to be closer to Corcoran State Prison where Manson is to be confined until the day he dies. Five hours on Saturdays and Sundays is all they get together, and will continue to get even as a married couple. To Burton, that is worth it.

Burton, a troubled young woman, found Manson the killer to complete her, and even though they will not live a normal life, it can be said that they will have a happy ending, especially when their situation is compared to all the other atrocities in the world. We often say: “Good things happen to bad people,” as if that explains all the injustice in the world, but what happens between two people has nothing to do with justice. Let’s just say he’s lucky to be imprisoned in North America. As far as murderers go, he is a lucky one.

But let’s not forget, Manson is being punished; nothing is going to change his sentence. And after he dies, Burton can move on with her life, infamous. If nothing more, his marriage is final attempt to spread his ideals, his deep dark history through public press and media.

Alternatively, I’d like to consider his story to be an inspiring one. After all, mistakes and loneliness are two of the most crippling struggles people have to deal with. Finding that special someone is not a simple task, and with real life obstacles, those who only have unrequited love may feel downtrodden and defeated. Don’t be discouraged, it doesn’t matter what you’ve done in life, there is always a chance for love. Hey, if Manson found it, so can you.

What’s funny to me is that America is a country where one of the world’s most notorious murderers can operate under the institution of marriage, while many same sex couples can’t. Nevertheless, same sex partners shouldn’t feel discouraged, since the movement is causing the general mindset to slowly but surely shifting in their favour.

Manson had a family before and he lost it all. He could have died a sad old man full of regrets, and many people like him do. But who’s to say he’s isn’t full of regrets? Who’s to say that he is happy? Who’s to say that he even understands what love is? Either way, marriage is not something that should be denied when there is mutual consent.

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